Final win tonight for a coaching legend? | Bleader

Final win tonight for a coaching legend?


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Coaching icon Pat Summitt
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  • Coaching icon Pat Summitt
On Jan. 10, 1975, in front of 53 spectators in Knoxville, 22-year-old Pat Head won her first game as a college coach—her University of Tennessee Lady Vols beat Middle Tennessee State, 69-32.

In the Allstate Arena tonight in Rosemont, Pat Summitt (she later married) will seek win number 1,096, as her Vols try to knock off the DePaul Blue Demons in a second-round game in the NCAA tourney.

Summitt is the winningest coach in college basketball history, of a men's or women's team—but if the Vols beat DePaul tonight, it could be her final win. Last spring, troubled by numerous memory lapses, she took a battery of tests at the Mayo Clinic and was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's. Summitt, now 59, said last week she may not coach next season. Tennessee (25-8) is ranked ninth in the nation, and if it advances its next game is likely to be against seventh-ranked Delaware (31-1).

DePaul, 23-10 and unranked, was plagued by injuries this season. The Blue Demons lost Keisha Hampton, one of the nation's top players, Taylor Pikes, who last season was sixth player of the year in the Big East Conference, starting point guard Chanise Jenkins, senior Maureen Mulchrone, and freshman Alexa Gallagher. The team has been relying on a thin, seven-player rotation—"the magnificent seven," coach Doug Bruno calls them. The Blue Demons advanced by edging Brigham Young Saturday night, 59-55, behind Anna Martin's 17 points. Martin, a junior guard, led the Big East in scoring this season, averaging 19 points.

Tip-off is at 8:40 PM.